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Osteoporosis Screenings Offered This Week

Many of us are at risk of developing osteoporosis if we simply live long enough. The bone disease affects approximately 75 million people in Europe, the USA and Japan. KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more on this disease, which can cause fractures if a person does even simple things…

Osteoporosis can cause a person’s bones to fracture if they do something as simple as cough or sneeze. Often a person doesn’t know they have the disease until they have a fracture.

That’s why CoxHealth is offering free osteoporosis screenings this week for anyone 21 and older. Patti Roper is a registered nurse and densitometry technician at Cox…

"Basically, you'll sit down with one of the technicians and she will go over what your risk factors are, and they can look at certain risk factors and determine how much of a risk you're at for osteoporosis. If you have a strong family history of people who were diagnosed with it or even people who got short or stooped over, broke bones, if you're short or thin or you've had to take certain medications like prednisone. There's a lot of medications and conditions that can increase your risk for developing osteoporosis, so they can determine who needs to be screened."

If it’s determined that a person is at risk for osteoporosis, they have the option of getting an Achilles heel screen for a fee…

"Their foot is put into an Achilles, which is an ultrasound device, and it measures the bone mass in their heel, and, if it shows low, then that can be an indication that they probably should go ahead and have more additional testing done."

The results of the Achilles heel screening are sent to the patient’s physician who then may order the DEXA, which scans the bones in the central part of the body.

According to Roper, osteoporosis is a condition where bones tend to get thin and brittle, and they break easily…

"Bone is living tissue and all your life it's being broken down and rebuilt and broken down and rebuilt, and when you're young and you're growing, your bones are building faster than they break down, but when we're about 30, our bones are the strongest they're ever going to be. They say after the age of 30 men start to lose bone, and they lose it slowly for the rest of their lives where women after the age of 30 start to lose bone slowly, and they lose it slowly until they become estrogen deficient."

Women who become estrogen deficient begin to lose bone rapidly. Roper says it’s important to find out early if you’re at risk so you can begin prevention or treatment. Those under 30 need to get plenty of calcium and vitamin D and do weight-bearing exercises to build bone mass. Those over 30 need to do those things as well to maintain the bone they’ve got.

There are medications available for people with osteoporosis that slow down the rate of bone loss and in some cases increase bone mass.

To make an appointment for an osteoporosis screening this Friday, call 269-4664. The screenings will take place at the Turner Center, 1001 E. Primrose, Suite 110 between 9 and 4.

For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.